The celebration of the biggest sporting event in the world takes place next year in a 10-block stretch on Broadway closing down traffic on one of the busiest streets in one of the busiest cities anywhere in the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, before the focus switches to the main event across the Hudson River at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. With Broadway renamed “Super Bowl Boulevard” from Jan. 29-Feb. 1, many of the events from the “NFL Experience,” including player appearances and NFL-themed exhibits, will be held from 34th to 44th Sts. There will also be nightly concerts. Across the river on game day, the hardened perimeter at MetLife Stadium will be secured 300 yards out from the stadium with 2 ½ miles of fencing. Only ticketed fans, those with credentials and official vehicles will be allowed inside the perimeter. Metal detectors will be in place, as they are at all NFL games. All bags will be screened. Explosive detection dogs will roam the stadium and the surrounding area. Fans will be allowed to drive to the game and tailgate, but there will be no grilling in the parking lot. One parking spot to a customer. It’s New York and it’s the Super Bowl and it has the potential for spectacular success, but following last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, the most important behind-the-scenes story surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII is the intense effort to safeguard the game and all its events from becoming a target of terrorism. “I was concerned before Boston, having been to the Middle East and having seen first-hand some of the things that groups will try to do,” says Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s vice president/chief security officer. “The attack on the Boston Marathon was a bit of game changer in my mind in the sense that it subjects American society to more of what other countries and other populaces around the world are facing. It makes that threat real. “Obviously,” Miller continued, “anyone who is from the New York region will never forget 9/11 and that has a lasting impact on people. But there are other ways in which individuals or groups can try to inflict that mental terror outlook by taking other steps. Obviously, this was a tragic event, but it showed where some weaknesses could be exploited. That requires us to continue to be vigilant and look at how we can strengthen our current policies around the league. That is something we’re currently doing."” The economic benefit of the Super Bowl for the metropolitan area is estimated to be between $500 million and $600 million during what is normally a quiet time following the holiday season. The Super Bowl host committee projects a total of 400,000 non-game event attendees, with 150,000 coming in from out of town. Of course, there will be about 80,000 fans at the game. It’s going to be a hot ticket for a cold- weather game. That is a lot of people to protect. Miller, 50, is sitting in his sixth-floor office at the NFL’s midtown Manhattan headquarters as the countdown begins. The game is now 258 days away. Miller joined the league in 2008 as the director of strategic security, which included making sure there was not a remake of SpyGate, starring Bill Belichick. This will be Miller’s third Super Bowl since he was promoted to run the security department. He spent 24 years with the Pennsylvania State Police, the last five as commissioner, where he ran an organization of 6,500 people. He is street-savvy, just as you would expect from a former cop. The two bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon have already had an impact, leading the NFL to increase security measures at this year’s draft at Radio City Music Hall the most obvious: a greater police presence and bomb-sniffing dogs. Now, the NFL has an even greater sense of urgency to make sure nothing like the violence wreaked upon Boston by the Tsarnaev brothers happens during the week-long Super Bowl events and the game. “The fact that these two individuals launched an attack against a sporting event in the way they did that, to me, is something that certainly makes us all in my line of work sit up and pay pretty close attention about potential implications and what we can put in place to reduce that risk,” Miller says. “Not that we weren't already focused on that.” “Black Sunday,” a fictional movie in 1977, depicted terrorists plotting to detonate a bomb carried on the Goodyear blimp over the Orange Bowl in Miami during Super Bowl X between the Cowboys and Steelers. It was thwarted by American and Israeli intelligence. “I haven’t seen that for years,” Miller says. Thirty-six years ago, an attack on a sports event was not just the product of Hollywood imagination in 1972, two Israeli athletes were murdered and nine were kidnapped and then killed by eight members of the Palestinian group Black September at the Munich Olympics.
NFL prepared to keep New York City safe for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium
New York Daily News | May 20